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With so many terms flying around and energy bills rising, there’s never been a better time to boost our understanding. And hopefully, make some savings. Dan Goodall, who now works at Bromford, spent four years in the energy industry. Over that time he picked up a few insider tips and tricks…

It starts with a comparison

  • The video above talks about going to the Ofgem website and finding a list of energy suppliers. Here's some of that list from 24/03/21. It's a big list, but you can pick a handful.

    Electricity Supply Domestic 

    Affect Energy Ltd
    Arto.Energy Limited
    AXPO UK Limited
    Barbican Power Limited
    Bluebell Energy Supply Limited
    Bristol Energy Limited
    British Gas Trading Limited
    British Gas X Limited
    Brook Green Trading Limited
    Bryt Energy Limited
    Bulb Energy Ltd
    Business Power and Gas Limited
    Cilleni Energy Supply Limited
    Constellation Generation Limited
    Co-Operative Energy Limited
    Corona Energy Retail 4 Limited
    Coulomb Energy Supply Limited

    Delta Gas and Power Limited
    D-Energi Trading Limited Donnington Energy Limited
    Drax Energy Solutions Limited
    E2M - Energy Trading Ltd.
    Ecotricity Limited
    EDF Energy Customers Limited
    E (Gas and Electricity) Limited Electricity Plus Supply Limited Electroroute Energy Limited
    Eneco Energy Trade BV
    Energise Britain Gas & Electric Ltd ENGIE Power Limited
    E.ON Energy Solutions Limited
    E.ON Next Energy Limited
    ESB Energy limited
    Farmoor Energy Limited
    Flow Energy Limited
    Foxglove Energy Supply Limited Good Energy Limited
    Green Energy (UK) plc
    Hartree Partners Supply (UK) Limited Holborn Energy Limited
    Home Energy Trading Ltd
    Labrador Ltd
    Limejump Energy Limited
    Logicor Energy Limited
    Marble Power Limited
    Maxen Power Supply Limited Mississippi Energy Limited
    MVV Environment Services Limited Neas Energy Limited
    Npower Commercial Gas Limited Npower Limited
    Npower Northern Limited
    Npower Northern Supply Limited Npower Yorkshire Limited
    Npower Yorkshire Supply Limited Octopus Energy Limited
    Opus Energy (Corporate) Limited Opus Energy Limited
    Opus Energy Renewables Limited Orsted Power Sales (UK) Limited OVO Electricity Limited
    Ovo (S) Electricity Limited Paddington Power Limited Pirranello Energy Supply Limited Planet 9 Energy Limited
    Pozitive Energy Ltd
    Scottish Power Energy Retail Limited

    Shell Energy Retail Limited
    Shell Energy UK Limited
    Sinq Power Limited
    So Energy Trading Limited
    Squeaky Clean Energy Limited
    Switch Business Gas and Power Ltd Toucan Energy Limited
    Tru Energy Limited
    UK Energy Incubator Hub Limited
    UK Healthcare Corporation Limited
    Unify Energy Limited
    United Gas & Power Trading Ltd
    Utilita Energy Limited
    Valda Energy Limited
    Whoop Energy Ltd
    Yu Energy Retail Limited

Getting the best deal often comes from a good comparison.

  • A comparison should give you more confidence to shop around and explore if there’s a better deal to be had
  • Checking the deals with your existing supplier can be a good starting point

But what’s the difference between a fixed rate and a variable tariff? How does a standard charge vary from a unit rate fee? And what actually is a price cap and why does it matter?

When we compare prices there's some technical terms that can make it difficult to compare. For more on these terms, see below.

Fixed rate vs variable tariff

A fixed rate is a specific deal for a specific period of time agreed with an energy company up front, and the price will remain static during that period.

  • A fixed rate is a specific deal for a specific period of time agreed with an energy company up front, and the price will remain static during that period.

    • the typical term is between one or two years

    • fixed rates usually have an exit fee for leaving the contract early and can offer slightly longer-term security, particularly in volatile markets

    • the reason why you might choose a fixed deal is so that you know the price you’re going to pay for a defined period of time

    • it’s not good value to choose a fixed deal that is significantly more expensive than the price cap if you’re on a variable tariff or are about to be put on a variable tariff, but it could be good value to choose a fixed deal that’s modestly more expensive than the price cap if energy costs are predicted to rise

    • you’re not protected by the price cap if you’re on a fixed tariff, as in fixed tariff prices do not have to be less than the price cap.

A variable tariff is when you don’t have a fixed rate and the energy supplier can raise or lower costs by giving 30 days’ notice, but never above the price cap.

    • there is no exit fee associated with a variable tariff

    • one way of ending up on a variable rate is when a fixed rate term ends and you choose not to renew or move to a different fixed rate. In this instance, suppliers have to put you on a variable tariff instead

    • another way could be when you move property and your new home is with another supplier that you haven’t got a fixed rate with

    • variable tariffs offer less stability but prices are protected by the price cap so long as you ended up on the variable tariff by default, e.g. you didn’t sign up specifically to be on the variable tariff (which is the norm). It’s always a good idea to check and weigh up the pros and cons depending on how fixed tariff deals compare.

Unit rate and standing charge

To understand your bill, it’s key to know the difference between these two terms.

  • A unit rate charge is the price you pay for your usage down to each single unit of energy (gas or electricity)
  • A standard charge is a daily charge which covers the rental of the meter itself, and a number of other industry charge

Both of these will be listed on your bill and you will need the latest rates to make an accurate price comparison. This will help you to see if other deals are cheaper.

What is the price cap?

The price cap is the maximum amount energy suppliers can charge someone on a variable tariff, and it is regulated by the energy regulator Ofgem.

This is reviewed every six months (April and October) if you are currently on a variable tariff.

It’s likely that you’ve recently received a letter or email telling you about the most recent rise – a big 54% with further rises expected later in the year.

This is being driven by a record rise in global gas prices over the last six months.

While it’s less than ideal that prices are rising as much as they are, the price cap is actually designed to protect customers and so it may be more beneficial to stay on a variable tariff rather than sign up to a significantly more expensive fixed price deal.

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